Friday 25 May 2018

'No one detected that she had this life threatening problem' - Father of girl (2) who died after hole in heart went undiagnosed

HSE apologise to family of girl (2) who died after hole in heart went undiagnosed

Aimee Keogh (Picture via RTÉ)
Aimee Keogh (Picture via RTÉ)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

THE death of Limerick toddler Aimee Keogh cannot be in vain and hospitals around the country need access to life-saving paediatric technology and services as a matter of urgency, a Limerick family has said.

In an emotional plea outside Limerick Circuit Court after the conclusion of a civil action against the HSE, Aimee Keogh's father James implored on the Minister for Health, Government and the Taoiseach to implement the recommendations made by the University Hospital Limerick following its own internal investigation into the death of the toddler in 2014.

Aimee died as a result of an undiagnosed hole in the heart, despite a consultant radiologist raising a concern of the possible heart defect up to four months before her death.

Mr Keogh said that if hospitals around the country had quicker access to a paediatrician with a special interest in cardiology, "no family should have to go through the horrible and heartbreaking ordeal that my family suffered and continue to suffer each and every day".

During the court case, the HSE apologised unreservedly for a breach in their duty of care to the Limerick toddler who died on the grounds of the University Hospital Limerick in 2014.

"In this present day, it is absolutely shocking that people are dying from person's negligence, lack of care and system failures and this has to stop now", Mr Keogh said.

Aimee's father told of how the screams of his two sons will haunt his family forever after they heard their little sister had died.

"On July 10, 2014, our lives were shattered and changed forever. Aimee was our princess who had her whole life in front of her but sadly this was stolen from her, her parents and her two brothers.

"Aimee's death should not have happened. Despite several visits to the university hospital Limerick and reviews by not only one, but by four different paediatricians, no one detected that she had this life threatening problem," Mr Keogh said in his heartbreaking statement.

Earlier, Judge Eugene O'Kelly ordered the HSE make a statutory solatium compensation payment to the Keogh family over the death of Aimee in a civil action taken by the family.

During the brief court proceedings, barrister Michael Purtill BL, acting for the Keogh family with Frances Twomey and Company solicitors, read a letter sent to them by the HSE.

In it, UL Hospitals Chief Operations Officer, Noreen Spillane said that the HSE wanted to "apologise unreservedly, for the "hurt, stress and upset on the tragic death" of Aimee.

Read in full the letter issued by the HSE to the family of Aimee Keogh:

5 March 2018,

Dear Deirdre and James

On behalf of the Health Service Executive we wish to apologise unreservedly to you and your family for the hurt, stress and upset on the tragic death of your baby daughter Aimee.

Regrettably, our investigation has shown that aspects of the care received by Aimee at the University Hospital Limerick did not reach the standards that could be expected.

Yours sincerely

Noreen Spillane, Chief Operations Officer, UL Hospitals.

Judge O'Kelly heard that the civil litigation arose as result of a claim of HSE negligence and breach in the duty of care of Aimee Keogh.

The little two-and-half-year-old toddler, from Glenbrook, Old Singland Road in Limerick, died after she went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on the grounds of University Hospital Limerick on July 10, 2014 as she was being prepared for transfer to Crumlin Children's Hospital.

Following a previous admission to hospital in March 2014 for febrile convulsions caused by tonsillitis, consultant radiologist Padraig O'Brien said that after reading her x-ray, he was suspicious of a septal defect more commonly known as a hole between the chambers of the heart.

However, Aimee was never referred on to a paediatric cardiologist and further negligence occurred when a paediatric neurologist and a treating paediatrician failed to review or recognise abnormalities presented in the X-Ray, the Keogh family claimed.

For almost four months, Aimee's major congenital heart defect went undiagnosed until her condition deteriorated in the days before her death.

Aimee had suffered 17 seizures before her admission to hospital on July 9 and was being prepared for transfer to Dublin for a paediatric cardio echo procedure that can only be performed by a paediatric cardio consultant based in Crumlin.

An inquest into the little toddler's death heard that Aimee's case was never reviewed by a paediatric cardiologist, but paediatric consultant Annemarie Murphy, who was in charge of Aimee's case, said she found the X-Ray to be normal and a multidisciplinary team who reviewed the same X-Ray over three weeks later also found it to be normal.

At the time, there were no paediatric cardiologists based outside of Crumlin and children could have to wait up to two years to see a paediatric cardiologist.

In the short hours before her death, Aimee became an urgent case as her seizures were more frequent and not related to any underlaying illness.

James Keogh described the family's last few moments with Aimee who "was living on borrowed time".

"Whilst being transferred to the ambulance, Aimee became upset and stressed which brought on one of her seizures and she went in to heart failure while clutching her little teddy".

Aimee Keogh died a short time later despite the best efforts to resuscitate her.

"Telling our two little boys that their sister was not coming home was the hardest things we ever had to do as parents and their screams will haunt us forever", James Keogh said after the case concluded as he called on the Government to act and prevent any further families suffering like his did.

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